Virgin Media Unveils 3D Movies On Demand To Beat Sky 3D Launch

Vincent Teoh

In a rather cheeky act of one-upmanship, Virgin Media today announced the launch of what the company claimed to be the “first commercially available 3D service” in the United Kingdom, narrowly beating by 3 days the full launch of the Sky 3D channel offering from arch rival British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB).

Although in operation since the 3rd of April, Sky’s 3D channel has only been showing 3D demo reels, with the occasional Barclays Premier League football matches in 3D thrown-in. It is due to be fully launched this Friday on the 1st of October with 3D coverage of the Ryder Cup 2010 golf competition.

Virgin Media’s 3D TV service – called “3D Movies On Demand” – is available on a pay-per-view basis to subscribers with V HD or V+ HD set-top boxes as of today. Users who own a 3D TV with compatible 3D glasses will be able to watch selected 3D movies on demand using the service which is powered by FilmFlex.

The first (and only) 3D movie available on launch is British film StreetDance 3D, which will cost viewers a cool £5.99 for a mere 24-hour rental. More 3D titles will be hitting the on-demand service over the coming months, including Garfield’s Pet Force 3D in October, Disney’s A Christmas Carol 3D in November, Step Up 3D in December, and Despicable Me 3D early next year.

Virgin Media’s executive director of digital entertainment Cindy Rose expressed her excitement at the cable TV company’s ability to deliver 3D content to its subscribers in the domestic setting. She indicated that this gives a glimpse of what to expect from Virgin Media, as it seeks to expand its portfolio of 3D material in preparation for when more 3D TVs make their way into UK households, and more 3D programmes are correspondingly produced.

Virgin Media also revealed an exclusive alliance with consumer electronics giant Samsung, which will see the latter’s 3D TVs installed in Virgin Media outlets nationwide, and both parties working together in roadshows and other marketing activities to promote 3D technology.